Some things to look for and the elusive sitting trot:
- Harley's swinging tail
- My swinging bellybutton, which returns my pelvis to neutral
- Harley's long neck and lifted back: he lifts up the saddle.
- Harley experiences a "release" when he walks and stretches his neck and back
- My feet in the stirrups: I trot with the horse by alternating some of the weight in each stirrup in rhythm with Harley's steps and tempo.
This is a riding paradox.
You must stand in order to sit.
Of course, none of this will work if your horse is not offering his back with softness and forwardness. Attempting to sit on a braced back can be detrimental to the horse.
Once we move on to rising trot, Harley and I begin to have a conversation about contact. The tempo is slow, which helps Harley focus on carrying as we warm up. I do not "set his head". I ask him to move forward and I receive the contact which he creates as our conversation progresses. I am not concerned with the steadiness or perfectness of his head carriage. He will settle in the rein contact when we find the length of neck that allows him to balance comfortably. My priority is to meet the connection he offers with support, but softness in my wrists, elbows, and shoulders. This is a challenge which I must rediscover every single time that I ride. Forcing it to happen instantly tightens my shoulders (my personal brace), which blocks a working connection. We can increase the power and energy of his trot once we have reached an understanding in this all important discussion about contact.